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BW Sessions: Cubicle Ninjas

BW Sessions: Cubicle Ninjas

by TODD STOLARSKI | May 14, 2015

Seven years ago, Cubicle Ninjas' CEO Josh Farkas sought to make the waves flow differently in the design world. All around him, he saw gray products churned out in a world of rainbows. Like a soft-spoken superhero, he strapped on a dark mask and carved out a tech startup in Glen Ellyn IL. Speaking next month at the sold-out MCAA Construction Technology Conference in Chicago, Mr. Farkas this week was kind enough to let BW peek inside his dojo.

BW: What is the main idea behind Cubicle Ninjas, and where did it originate?

American Ninja, unmasked. Bow before CEO Josh Farkas. Wait, is this really him? Is he really there?

American Ninja, unmasked. Bow before CEO Josh Farkas. Wait, is this really him? Is he really there?

JF: We wanted good design to win. Often, design agencies are driven by businessmen. Timelines are long, costs are high, customer service is bad, and the ”creative team” is one person with limited vision. The end product shows this focus... We put design at the core of everything we do. We hire bright, creative minds and apply a whole team to every project. We believe in completing projects yesterday, and price it as affordably as we can. This is less a business, and more a place for creative people to call home.

What void in the market does Cubicle Ninjas look to fill?

Cubicle Ninjas creates design and development work that is fun, collaborative, and innovative. We are willing to design outside of the norm to discover the hidden treasures beneath the surface. We focus on utilizing an innovative, design-focused development approach that transforms ideas into highly effective and impactful deliverables. We are always looking for new ways to help our clients shine. This means using mediums outside of the box like augmented reality and virtual reality to bring ideas to life... We make ordinary designs, extraordinary.

Did you encounter any unexpected challenges in entering the digital design studio market?

Buckets of challenges! The top two initial surprises: Demand for low cost/quality; and Finding brilliant creative talent. When I started, I believed everyone wanted the best creative ideas possible. But many businesses don’t see the value in design, and just want to get it over with. This helped us learn quickly that we needed to find the right kind of customer for us, which is someone who is looking to have fun and build the best end products we can. And finding smart, creative people can be tricky, too. It took time to learn what to look for, and how best to find someone who has the ability to grow alongside changing industry needs.

We make ordinary designs, extraordinary... Our ninjas run on love.
— Josh Farkas, Cubicle Ninjas

As a digital design studio, how does Cubicle Ninjas stand out from its competition?

Our ninjas run on love. We love to build and create projects that make people smile. We love to make the world better through our designs. We love to try new things, sometimes crazy, even impossible things, to take a chance no one else might. Everyone we meet thinks the idea of building virtual reality apps is cool, but impractical. Few are willing to take the risks to build them. We are. We believe in what we are doing, and know the power of virtual reality is real.  

VR is making splashes in many industries. Do you any limits to its uses?

We believe virtual reality has the power to make the impossible, possible. VR can be used in so many industries from healthcare, to travel, to design and construction, and everything in between. It can be used to create product demos or guided tours, deliver a one-of-a-kind experience at a trade show show, or bring a company’s brand to life. VR allows companies to share their products, services, and brand through experiences that are completely immersive, individualized, and empathetic. So we are working with our clients to incorporate VR into their marketing. From custom brand experiences to dynamic product demos, it is helping them to tell their story in a whole new way.

When will robots take over our jobs?

I’m hoping tomorrow, around 3pm? That would be really nice of them.

But seriously, for robots in general, I think the reality is that most work would cost more to automate for the foreseeable future. Low cost labor is abundant, so the only areas it makes sense are in high cost / high technical skill, or precision areas, which are already fairly automated. If we take a look at Apple, they were one of the first to automate the production of their computers via robots in the 1980’s. But they learned the costs involved could be matched overseas. Now they have nearly a whole city dedicated to production at very little cost, and that doesn’t appear to be changing soon.

** BONUS **

What did you think of the first 15 minutes of the Pixar movie "Up"?

I cried like a baby, both loving the movie and hating at how perfectly they toyed with me. Pretty sure they’re wizards.

Well, they may not be wizards but Josh and his crew are definitely our favorite ninjas. For more on their approach to the AEC space, watch this presentation from BW's own BIM/IPD Night back in March. 

Thank you to Cubicle Ninjas' CEO Josh Farkas for taking the time to talk with us.  
Be sure to check them out at
Stay up to date with all things design in the world of ninjas on twitter at @CubicleNinjas

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